Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Pixels @ HCC Ybor

Photoshop changed the way pictures are processed -- and perceived. Its users fractured the illusion of veracity in the photographic image. Today, believing is seeing, but the opposite is no longer true. For those schooled in photo-history,  it wasn't true a few decades after the invention of photography. By the latter half of the 1800's, adept Pictorialist darkroom technicians were doing things like burning in skies from other negatives, moving trees and hills around, inserting people, etc. The best-known example of this would be Oskar Gustav Rejlander's "The Two Ways of Life", a photographic moral cautionary tale, shown above left. A large amount of the tropes now common to Photoshop were already employed via analog means at the time by artists.

The "Pixels" show at HCC Ybor is comprised of works by students and faculty from the Photoshop (PS) classes there. Some of the work belies the process, others are open, if not blatant about it, encouraging the visual dialogue between the finished product, its making, and the viewer. The process as a form of narrative.

The themes in this show are mostly in the mainstream of photography, although the imagery does not fall under the "straight" category.

Selena Hall, "Daydreaming"

Selena Hall's "Daydreaming" shows a boat on sand dunes, with a bird perched at one end. Above, a subframe with an image of the water. A simple, surreal juxtaposition.

Resa Horta, "Unwillful Expectations"

Some look a lot more credible. Resa Horta's "Unwillful Expectations" consists of the back of a womanwho appears to be topless, if not naked, with a blue tape measure wrapped around her waist and being held under tension into an upraised fist, all before a fridge. The struggle between eating and being attractive.

Amber Mace, "Woman in the Living Room"

Montages probably are the most common use for PS. On the left we see what seems to be part PS and part old-school paper collaging. It's hard to tell which is which, but the artist makes the point of juxtaposing old and new. The bookshelves, view outside the window and hanging pictures seem to be digitally inserted.

Francy Arguello, "Swimming in the Darkness"

Francy Arguello's "Swimming in the Darkness"  Is a fantasy piece of a self-portrait of the artist as a mermaid swimming in the clouds, subject to the tidal pull of the Moon. Lightning strikes in the distance. The mermaid's tail breaks through the clouds, flipping. The woman wears a bather's cap and swimming goggles, looking over her shoulder as if questioning the viewer. It makes no effort to hide its construction, calmly confident in its constructed reality.

Congratulations to all the artists, instructors, Carolyn Kossar and HCC Ybor for an interesting show. While it's tempting to go from work to work trying to guess what was PS'ed, my advice is to go and take in the works whole, just as they are.

Closes July 26th.

---- Luis

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